Sales Mailers Strategies
Jason Cochard for Land Academy
Sending a neighbor letter is a great way to increase awareness about your for sale property to the most logical buyers — other people in the area. Sometimes it’s most strategic to send to the actual adjacent property owner, and sometimes that might get sketchy if the neighbors speak to each other and can just go behind your back. Sometimes, it’s best to send it to people who might have a vested interest in buying more land in the area. Maybe they run a functioning ranch, or maybe local zoning has rendered their single parcel unbuildable and you’ve got the missing piece to solve that problem (at a price).
So it helps to have a neighbor letter strategy.
Here are 3 strategies I use when sending neighbor letters to spark buyer interest. The specific circumstance will dictate the kind of letter likely to be most effective, and even within the same radius, studying the parcels can give you insight as to which approach will appeal to any given recipient.
A lot of property has been sliced up to the point that a subsequent local zoning change renders a certain acreage range “unbuildable” without a zoning variance. If your immediately-adjacent neighbors are in this situation, and your parcel will solve the problem by putting them over the hump, then send a letter with zoning as the main point.
If you have multiple neighboring parcels all owned by different people, where your parcel will solve the same problem, sending everyone the same zoning letter could put you on the pleasurable end of a bidding war over rural land. And that is a Very Good Thing™.
If you have the balls to get into escrow on landlocked property, knowing that there’s a huge chance that the neighbor is a logical buyer, you can send a letter calling attention to that.
It’s not in my letter, but in a lot of states, the law is favorable to owners of landlocked property, and there is a type of easement called an easement of necessity. If you had to go through all the motions, you could probably establish legal/physical access, and it could be right across the neighbor’s land who is about to receive your letter. In a lot of cases, it will be in their interest to just buy you out rather than have to accept a judgment granting an easement to someone. To me, that knowledge is better kept in reserve, to be dealt out during a follow-up call if necessary — if they are playing hardball giving really low counter offers, you could casually throw out the idea that you’re maybe thinking of not selling and just seeking an easement of necessity and selling for triple.
HOARDERSSome areas have parcel maps with the same owner all over the place. This person is obviously a buyer, and they may also have psychiatric problems. Or maybe they just run a ranch. But, they do jump out of the page at you, as quickly as a hoarder’s garage.
In that situation, I just send a letter that seems “general” but is actually just a subtle callout of their hoarding problem. You’re offering to help them increase their holdings in the area, talking about your parcel for sale as a good addition to their own. The fact that you’re likely giving it up for decently low pricing will put them over the edge.
To re-use the letter templates and facilitate subtle yet important differences, I create several new fields in a spreadsheet, corresponding to various words in the letter that might have a difference depending on the specific neighbor I’m mailing. With a different word in the spreadsheet, I can differentiate between parcels that are actually adjacent, and ones which are merely nearby.
As you might be able to tell, the letters are very similar, and there’s nothing super special about them. But the letter itself is less important than the strategy behind which one to send. Do you send a price? That’s up to you. I think there are good arguments on both sides. It’s very specific and direct if you do include an offer price. But putting the offer in the letter does allow someone to either ignore it (price being too high, and they don’t want to negotiate) or delay responding as they come up with a well-researched counter-offer.On the other hand, omitting a price only increases the anticipation of what that price might be. Having a phone call at the same time every other neighbor has received the same letter will put more power into your hands as seller — one casual comment that you sent the same letter to 50 other people can quickly get the most interested buyers to show their cards, so to speak.
One of the assumptions I make in taking this position is that multi-parcel landowners are probably accustomed to only entering business situations that they control. Getting an enticing offer onto the table only when it is also on 50 other tables is a curveball in that respect.
So I think the actual neighbor letter is less important than the strategy behind your choice of letter flavor.